Sharing my blog post from The Official Microsoft Blog...
Today, the Catholic International Education Office (OIEC) took an exciting step toward delivering a brighter future for Catholic students around the world, demonstrating there is no greater resource to invest in than that of youth. Recognizing changes were needed to provide their students with the 21st century skills they’ll need in their future careers, OIEC is partnering with Microsoft to bring Office 365 and other resources to more than 200,000 Catholic schools all over the world with the potential to reach 43 million students.
The partnership between OIEC and Microsoft deploys some of the newest technologies, including more than 4.5 million subscriptions to Office 365 for education – a free tool for educators and students worldwide, which will be made available this summer during the first wave of deployment. The agreement empowers educators and students to do a number of things, including working together on class projects and documents simultaneously, collaborating in real time with virtual meetings, and participating in instant messaging and video conferencing across the globe. They’ll also be able to create and maintain compelling websites and edit them as easily as they would a Word document, and access a new “Social Network of Catholic Education,” designed by Microsoft and based on Windows Azure, as a private element of the Partners in Learning Network.
As someone who spent 20 years in the Catholic education system, I know the importance of a great Catholic education, and have experienced firsthand the exemplary efforts of the leaders to prepare their students for the challenges and opportunities of the future. It comes as no surprise to me that OIEC is pioneering this significant change to the education of their students – they have recognized the value of integrating technology into the classroom as a way to teach 21st century skills.
With this announcement, we see the shifting dynamics of the modern Catholic classroom ushering in an exciting era for the worldwide Catholic community, and, hopefully, serving as a harbinger for traditional classroom changes around the world. Research from IDC states that in the next decade, 77 percent of all jobs will require technical skills of some sort, and when institutions like OIEC make announcements akin to the one they made today at the Vatican, I feel a boost of confidence that our students will be prepared.
We need to continue to get creative about the ways technology can make a real impact in the lives of students and prepare them for the jobs of the future. Through this partnership, we will do just that. I am proud the leadership of the Catholic International Education Office has chosen to partner with Microsoft to deliver on their commitment to educators and students to modernize its schools and further its mission to promote education for all. Together, we can make a real impact in the classroom for both students and educators, and look forward to taking this journey with the Catholic community around the world.